Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams acknowledged on Friday that Republican candidate Brian Kemp will be declared governor of Georgia, but she will not officially concede the election.
“I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election,” Abrams said in a news conference.
“This is not a speech of concession. Because concession means to acknowledge an action that’s right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.”
Abrams’ announcement comes more than a week after legal battles and ballot counting. Her campaign and allies sought to count all votes. If Kemp’s lead were reduced, it would have forced a runoff on Dec. 4.
Late Thursday, Kemp led by 54,801 votes out of 3.9 million cast. His 50.22 percent of the tally put him just above the 50 percent-plus-one-vote threshold, which means a runoff election would not be required.
It was a contentious race with said elements of voter suppression as Kemp was both the secretary of state and a gubernatorial candidate. He resigned from his post after the midterm election on Nov. 6.
Abrams has said Kemp has a pattern of voter suppression. On Nov. 2, NAACP Georgia State Conference and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law won an injunction against the use of the controversial voter regulating software Exact Match.
The injunction challenged Kemp’s decision not to process more than 53,000 voter registration applications to seemingly boost his campaign. According to an Associated Press report, the voter registrations are predominantly from Black people, an estimated 70 percent.
A federal judge decided that “exact match” rules for voter registration would not apply to the midterm vote.
Abrams, who would have become the nation’s first elected Black female governor, said she would soon bring “a major federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for gross mismanagement of this election.”
She also has plans to start an organization to fight for more equitable voting laws.
“Earlier Friday, Abrams was considering filing a separate lawsuit contesting the results and demanding a new election,” according to The Washington Post. “That would have been based on a provision in Georgia law that allows losing candidates to challenge results.
However, she said on Friday evening, she did not want to get into office if she had to “scheme” to do so.